Hotel Bed and Breakfast Palermo

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The Phoenicians arrived in the Conca d'Oro from Carthage and they found the town of 'ZIZ' (Flower). Dionysius 1st, tyrant of Syracuse, attacks the town, which resists to the siege. It is conquered by the Byzantines. They merely consider it the capital of a province of slight importance.

Palermo with the Arab domination is the Eastern harbour to the West and many mosques are built. In 1072 a.C. the Normans led by Roger and Robert the Guiscard came in Palermo. Even though the Normans defeated the Arabs, they leave the Arabs important posts in the new governement set-up and the town becomes the Arab-Norman capital of a powerful and rich reign.
In 1130 Roger II de Hauteville is crowned King of Sicily, Calabria and Apulia. With the wedding of Costance de Hauteville (daughter of Roger II) with Henry VI of Hohenstaufen, starts the dispotic dynasty of the Hohenstaufens. Frederick II, their son, is the most enlightened sovereigns of all times. In this way the Sicilian 'Poetic School' was founded.

After a 12 year Angevin tyranny much of Sicilian land is confiscated by the French, the Sicilians rebel in the famous 'Vespers' revolt. Afterwards, the Spanish Aragonese domination comes it lasts about three centuries, and for Sicily it is a period of comparative tranquillity but also inexorable political decline, but from an architectural point of view this is a moment of great growth.
In 1713, by the treaty of Utrecht, the whole Island goes to the Savoys, who will rule Sicily for seven years. In 1718 the Island goes to the Austrians and immediately afterwards to the Bourbons of Naples. The Sicilan 'picciotti' take part to the expedition of Garibaldìs Thousand, against the Bourbons, to annex Sicily to the nascent Kingdom of Italy.
Palermo has its Belle Epoque. It is the time of the slightly decadent luxury and the splendour shown off by the upper middle class. It is also the birth of entrepreneurship: important the presence of the powerful Florio family. Since 1947 Palermo is the seat of the Regional Government and of the Assembly.

Visit Palermo

Regional Archaeological Museum in Palermo. It has housed since 1866 in the impressive former monastery of St.Philip's Congregation, in Piazza Olivella (Olivella Square). It has high quality collections coming from the minor Sicilian islands and from the western-centre of Sicily.
Among the items: the Greek metopes of Selinunte, (big sculptures of the temples, VIIIth century b.C.), the Selinunte Ephebe, the Etruscan collection, burial objects from the Carthaginian tombs, prehistoric materials (pictorial remains found in the Cave of the Addaura, the bronze Ram from Syracuse.

Fondazione Mormino Museum in Palermo. Villa Zito houses the Archaeological Museum of the Fondazione Mormino, seat of the foundation instituted by the Banco di Sicilia (the Sicilian Banking Institute).
Apart from an important Greek ceramics collection, it shows an interesting collection of Sicilian coins from the Aragonese and Bourbon reigns, a beautiful collection of both Sicilian and continental majolica pieces, and a precious one of extraordinary stamps with specimen from Angevin times to the 19th century. It houses a collection of Sicilian paintings of the XIXth century.

The three Caves of the Addaura in Palermo. The three Caves of the Addaura have neolithic drawings.

Regional Gallery in Palermo. It is housed in Palazzo Abatellis, built in 1490. In the museum there are paintings of the XIth to XVIIth century of particular interest are: 'Triumph of death' ('Il trionfo della Morte') of the XVth century, the 'Annunziata' by Antonello da Messina and also sculpture the bust of Eleonora D'Aragona by Francesco Laurana and other work of art by Domenico and Antonello Gagini.

Civic Gallery of modern art 'E.Restivo' in Palermo. It is set out on the top floor of the Theatre Garibaldi and from the outside it is possible to look at the sculptures of different Sicilian artists.
The works on display are prevalently Sicilian paintings of the XIXth and of the XXth century.

Ethnography Museum G. PitrŔ in Palermo. It was founded in 1909 by Giuseppe Pitrè himself, he was fond of the Sicilian popular traditions. Since 1935 it is, in the Parco della Favorita, in one of the Palazzina Chinese annexes. It exhibits about 4,000 objects used in ordinary Sicilian life: tools and instruments which witness Sicilian habits, beliefs, myths and traditions.

The Risorgimento Museum in Palermo. It is in the San Domenico cloister, the sole remains of the old 14th century building; it has many exhibits from the Risorgimento: prints, medals, portraits, referring especially to the 'Mille' exploit.
It was founded on 31st December 1918 for the enthusiasm of the Ist World War victory, but its current settlement dated back to 15th April 1961 in occasion of the centenary of the Italian Unity.

Diocesan Museum in Palermo. It is housed in the Archbishop's Palace (Palazzo Arcivescovile), it has an important religious art collection ranging from the XVIth to the XIXth century.

Paleontologic Museum 'G.G.Gemellaro' in Palermo. The museum, annexed to the Palermòs University, shows an interesting collection of different kind of marble and stones of the Island, and a wide Sicilian Stratigraphic collection.

Mineralogy and Zoology Museum in Palermo. It is housed in the Zoology Institute. It exhibits a university collection.

State Archives of Palermo. Housed since 1800 in two buildings: one of the 17th century, the former Church of the Theatine Fathers and the other is part of the former Capuchins monastery of S.Maria degli Angeli. These Archives are fundamental for anyone who wants to know more on the history of Sicily. The documents of the public administrations followed one another under the different dynasties and the documents relating to the public life of the whole island are kept there.

Historical Archives of Palermo. Housed from the second half of the 19th century in the former S. Nicolò da Tolentino monastery. Of particular architectonic interest is the Almeyda room. The documents that are kept here fundamentally regard the city of Palermo. Of particular historical value are the collections of the Senate, the town councils and of the Decurionate proceedings, representative and parliamentary organs of the city. Of great value the notarial register by Adamo de Citella containing about 400 deeds drawn up from September 1298 to August 1299, the oldest organic register of notarial deeds in Sicily.

Biblioteca Comunale (public library) of Palermo. Founded in 1760, it is housed in the former oratory of the Jesuits Casa Professa, it collects today archivistic patrimonies from the libraries of monasteries of different religious orders: Theatine Fathers, Benedictines, San Martino delle Scale Abbey, Fathers of Oratory. Precious 16th century manuscripts, a series of manifestos, plans of the city, a collection of Arab-Sicilian coins are kept there.

Biblioteca Centrale della Regione Siciliana of Palermo. Created at the end of the 18th century under the bourbonic monarchy it is housed in the 16th century building that was the Collegio Massimo dei Gesuiti. Among the most precious volumes for their historical value there are the 1478 'Consuetudines urbis Panormi' first book printed in Sicily. Among the manuscripts the Arab and Greek codexes are worth mentioning.

Biblioteca di Storia Patria of Palermo. Housed in the former S.Domenico cloister in the stately Piazza di San Domenico (San Domenico Square). There are kept documents relating to the Sicilian history of the last two centuries. The most important section of the library are the archives of the Italian Risorgimento containing 60,000 volumes and 13,000 letters and documents among which the letters of the Sicilian exiled patriots.

San Domenico Church in Palermo. Baroque monument built in 1640 by Andrea Cirrincione; it was built over the previous church dating to the early 14th century. The facade dates to 1726, and it perfectly fits in the square structure, it is an important part of the scenary.
The grandiose three-aisled interior houses many works of art by Gagini. In the church cloister there is the Risorgimento Museum.

Santa Teresa della Kalsa Church in Palermo. Built in the XVII century it is an important example of Baroque in Palermo. The church, together with the monastery, characterized Piazza Kalsa. At the entrace there is a big choir supported by strong columns, which is typical of the churches of cloisters. The inside is rich of Serpottàs splendid stuccoes.

Santa Caterina Church in Palermo. Built in the second half of the XVI century; its elegant facade has a portal by Gaginìs followers. The St. Catherine sculptured by Antonello Gagini in 1534, is an interesting work. Inside it is possible to see the rich intarsia ornamentation and marble carvings of the XVIII century.

San Giuseppe dei Teatini Church in Palermo. Founded by the Teatini fathers around the XVII century. It contains inside a precious crucifix by Fra Umile da Petralia, and also works of art by Marabitti, Pietro Novelli and frescoes by Borremans. The inside is built following a big architectural style which gives to the space a sense of monumentality; all this is also accentuated by the monolithic columns of different height by Biliemi.

Jesus Church in Palermo (or Casa Professa). Built in 1564, it was often extended and modified. After the restorations the church now has its original aspect. The red colour of the moulding stands out on the plain facade. The interior has brilliantly rich Baroque decoration with stuccoes and sculptures by Gagini, paintings by Pietro Novelli and coloured marble inlay works. The magnificient porticoed baroque courtyard gives access to the ' biblioteca comunale' (the public library).

Santa Cita Oratory in Palermo. Built in the 17th century, it is on the left of the Church of Santa Zita. It houses precious stuccoes by Giacomo Serpotta during the period 1688-1718. Refined choir stalls with angel decorations delimit the altar with its 'Madonna del Rosario' by Carlo Maratta.

San Domenico Church in Palermo. Baroque monument built in 1640 by Andrea Cirrincione; it was built over the previous church dating to the early 14th century. The facade dates to 1726, and it perfectly fits in the square structure, it is an important part of the scenary. The grandiose three-aisled interior houses many works of art by Gagini. In the church cloister there is the Risorgimento Museum.

Sant'Ignazio all'Olivella Church in Palermo. Built at the end of the XVI century, it has a baroque facade between two belltowers. In 1593 the Filippini order settled in Palermo and they soon began to build the church and their home, today seat of the Archaeological Museum. The facade is enriched by the constant rhythm of elegant but strong columns. Inside there are superb paintings by Pietro Novelli , Filippo Paladino, and statues by Ignazio Marabitti.

Magione Church in Palermo. Also known as Church of the 'Trinità'(Trinity), it is one of the last notable Norman buildings done in 1191. From the outside the church presents a great variety of decorating motifs, in particular the elegant game of the blind arches interwoven at the top of the apses. The remains of the Norman cloisters are on the left of the Church.

San Cataldo Church in Palermo. It was built in 1160 by the admiral Majone of Bari, it was found in its original construction typically Norman. It has little blind arches stretching across the neat exterior with its three charateristic red calotte domes and an elegant merloned cornice.

The Cathedral in Palermo. The Cathedral contains the Royal and Imperial tombs.

San Giovanni degli Eremiti Church in Palermo. Roger II had erected in 1142. The annexed monastery was one of the most privileged and the richest of the Norman domination also because it was the seat of the abbot. Who was the King's confessor and according to a royal decree members of the royal family were to be buried in the cementery of the abbey. But this decree was never applied. The Church, now deconsecrated, is one of the most typical monuments of the Norman domination in Palermo.

Palatina Chapel in Palermo. It was begun in 1130, the year of Roger Iìs coronation as first king of Sicily, it was completed in thirteen years. In it there is the visual enactment of the fusion of manifold characters making up Sicily: European, Sicilian, Byzantine and Arab. The chapel is in the shape of a basilica, with three naves divided by granite columns with rich gilded Corinthian capitals.
The mosaics are the finest products of Byzantine art unrivalled in any of the existing churches. Worth special mention are the Christ Pantocreator in the cupola, the Angels surrounding him and the Evangelists engrossed in their studies, which are the oldest mosaics.

Zisa Castle in Palermo. The building of the Castle was started in the last year (1165) of the life of King William I and completed by William II. At its origin it was surrounded by a vast park, which doesn't exist any longer.
Its name derives from the Arabic AL-AZIZ, that is to say 'splendid', and still today in effect it is considered one of the most magnificient Arab-Norman buildings in the world, for its sophisticated structures. The castle has now been transformed into a 'Museum of Islam' and gathers interesting material about the Arabs in Sicily.

La Cuba in Palermo. Norman building erected in 1180 by William II. Only some remains are left, among which the walls and the big arch of the vestibule.

Palazzo Abatellis in Palermo. Built by the architect Matteo Carnevalieri around the XVth century, in fine late Gothic forms with Catalan and Renaissance influences. It has triple mullioned windows in the facade flanked by two crenellated corne towers with a handsome and richly decorated doorway.
The construction of the Palace was ordered by the Praetor of Palermo Francesco Abatellis. After his death the Palace was transformed in a monastery till 1867. At present it houses the Sicilian Regional Gallery (La galleria Regionale Siciliana).

Palazzo Mirto in Palermo. Nobiliary mansion of the early twentieth century, it still has nineteenth century fuinishings.

Royal Palace in Palermo (or Norman Palace). It was built by the Arab emirs around the IXth century, but they abandoned it soon. It was then restored and transformed by the Normans into a sumptuous palace. Frederick II of Hohenstaufen created here the 1st 'Poetic School', but after his death the palace began to decline and this went on for about three centuries. Things changed when the Spanish chose it as their residence, but they modified it according to their taste. Since 1947 the Palace is the seat of the Regional Sicilian Assembly.

Palazzo Steri in Palermo (or Palazzo Chiaramonte). Magnificent fortified palace built by Manfredi 1st of the Chiaramonte family in 1307. In the XVIIth century it was the seat of the Inquisition Tribunal; at present it houses the offices of the Rector of Palermo University. It has a gothic-renaissance style.

Palazzo Pretorio in Palermo (or Palazzo delle Aquile). Ancient seat of the Palermo Senate, at present it is the seat of Palermòs Town Hall. It has handsome rooms decorated with 18th and 19th century paintings and sculptures.

Il Palazzo Arcivescovile a Palermo. Palazzo quattrocentesco sede dell'arcivescovado palermitano. Sorge sul lato occidentale della piazza Cattedrale. Sulla facciata si possono ammirare i resti dell'originaria costruzione quattrocentesca: un'elegante trifora, intagliata da una lunetta traforata, ed il geometrico portale ad arco ribassato. Il palazzo ospita inoltre il Museo Diocesano.

Palazzina Cinese in Palermo. Designed by Venanzio Marvuglia, in mixture of neoclassical and the typical style of the times to house Chinoiseries. It contains an excellent collection of prints and many of the original furnishing. It was the residence of King Frederik and Queen Maria Carolina.

Palazzo Sclafani in Palermo. It was built by Matteo Sclafani in 1330, it is an impressing quadrangular palace. The most interesting thing to notice is the intertwining arches with inlaids of lavic pumice-stone and the portal by Bonaiuto from Pisa.

Palazzo Aiutamicristo in Palermo. Built in 1490-1495, at the same time of palazzo Abatellis, by Matteo Carnelivari, the last 'architect head of the workers'. The huge Palace occupies almost the entire block and shows an interesting historical stratifications.

Vigliena Square in Palermo (or Quattro Canti di Città). The project for the layout of this square was drawn up in 1608. It is also referred to as the 'theatre of the sun', since it is illuminated by the sun's rays from dawn to dusk.
The four rounded fronts of the buildings are decorated in the following way: at the bottom there are four fountains surmounted by statues, each of one of the four seasons; above them, the statues of the Spanish monarchs Charles I, Philip II, Philip III and Philip IV; at the top, the four saints protecting the four quarters: St.Cristina, St.Oliva, St.Ninfa and St.Agata.

Massimo Theatre in Palermo. The huge and famous Massimo Theatre, one of the most capacious and famous opera house in Italy, was built at the end of the 19th century by the architecs Gian Battista and Ernesto Basile. It is a building of neo-classical inspiration.
Many notable baroque buildings were brought down to create a wide place and actually it occupies a surface area of 7730 square metres. The theatre will be opened May the 12th with a concert played by the 'Berliner' directed by C. Abbado.

Villa Malfitano in Palermo. The Whitaker's family Villa, in the Plain Malfitano, is a real museum today where the family's collections of antique are kept. In the history of the town architecture, the villa Malfitano has played a prototypal role for the residential buildings sprung up in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Nature in Palermo

The Conca D'Oro and the mountain chain that surrounds Palermo. The main mountains are: Monte Gallo, Monte Pellegrino, Pizzo Manolfo, Monte Grifone, Monte Cuccio, Monte Gibilmesi and they can be the destination of interesting naturalistic walks also for the enchanting landscape.
Monte Pellegrino, in particular, is important for its paleolithic drawings, found in one of the caves of the Addaura. In Monte Pellegrino, 134 caves have been listed for their speleological and archaeological interest.
The Conca D'Oro is also important for the migrating bird study and for the presence of species that winter there. Monte Gallo and Monte Pellegrino are included in the 'Regional Plan for parks and natural reserves'.

Palermo Gastronomy

If you go out for a walk in Palermo, it is easy to meet food pedlars with the local specialities.
The desserts tradition is very rich and sumptuous, it was born with the Arabs (they introduced the sweetened ricotta cheese, cinnamon, pistachios, candied fruit, dried fruit and cloves) and it continued in convents and now it includes a wide range of specialities.
Cassata. The Cassata is a typical dessert of Palermo. It is done with an iced sponge-cake with ricotta cheese cream, and decorated with coloured candied fruit.
Martorana. In Palermo like in the rest of Sicily a typical product is the Frutta Martorana. It is made of marzipan (almond dough) in the form of colourful Mediterranean fruits.
Buccellato. The Buccellato is a typical dessert, done in the Christmas time. It is made of a pastry filled with dried figs, dried fruits and herbs.
Cazzilli. In the local dialect (of Palermo) the Cazzilli are simple potato croquettes. They are sold in small fried food kiosks together with the panelle.
Panelle. The panelle is a typical product of Palermo. They are fried chick-peas pancakes.

Municipalities of Palermo:

Bagheria Caccamo Monreale Palermo
Termini imerese

Part of the information regarding the history, the art, the traditions and the events about the city of Palermo on this page is drawn from respecting the GNU Free Documentation License.